Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Learning and Knowledge

© MMX V.1.1.1
by Morley Evans

The genotype of an individual is what its species has learned over millions of years to enable individuals to survive. The phenotype of an individual allows it to adapt to specific environments. Humans, who originally evolved in Africa, live in the Arctic, for example. Their genotype is identical. Their phenotype is different. Both evolve through learning. The mechanism is trial and error. Errors do not survive. Adaptive choices survive. Progeny of survivors benefit from what was learned.

Culture embodies everything that has been learned. It is passed on from generation to generation. Individuals do not know or need to know why some things are done or why some things are not done. It works, that is all that matters. "That is how we have always done it," someone might say. People may not be able to defend knowledge and behaviour that has been handed down this way. Yet, we would be wise to be conservative and cautious even if we can't say why. The idea that everything is connected to everything is quite new to us in the West. Changing anything affects everything, sometimes in catastrophic ways.

The problem with "modern civilization" is that we are not as smart as some of us think they are.

The Franklin Expedition (1845) is one excellent example: The Franklin Expedition was organized to navigate the Northwest Passage to China. It was undertaken by the British Empire at the height of its power. Every modern scientific advantage was provided, yet everyone and everything was lost in horrific ways:

"In 1981, a team of scientists led by Owen Beattie, a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta, began a series of scientific studies of the graves, bodies, and other physical evidence left by Franklin crew members on Beechey Island and King William Island. They concluded that the crew members whose graves had been found on Beechey Island most likely died of pneumonia and perhaps tuberculosis and that lead poisoning may have worsened their health, owing to badly-soldered cans held in the ships' food stores. However, it was later suggested that the source of this lead may not have been tinned food, but the distilled water systems fitted to the expedition’s ships. Cut marks on human bones found on King William Island were seen as signs of cannibalism. The combined evidence of all studies suggested that hypothermia, starvation, lead poisoning, and disease including scurvy, and general exposure to a hostile environment lacking adequate clothing and nutrition, killed everyone on the expedition." [1]

It has been suggested that the "modern and scientific" British explorers refused to learn anything from the "backward" native Inuit who had successfully lived in the Arctic for millennia. (Today, the Inuit, having adopted modern ways, such as skidoos, TV and Pizza Pops, are in big trouble. In fact, they face disaster and extinction as a people.)

Throughout history, there have been thousands of similar examples. In the last fifty years, "modern civilization" has been reshaping the world at breathtaking speed. We think we know what we are doing, or at least, some think they know.

We don't have a clue. The chemical industry, alone, has created tens of thousands of new chemicals in the past sixty years that never existed before. No one has any idea what most of them will do. We know about PCBs and DTT — after the damage was done. Some researchers are only now discovering what Fructose does. Fructose? They put that in our food. They put lots of that in our food. It is approved by the FDA. [2]

"Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday, out in the midday, out in the midday sun." Why don't the natives go out in the midday sun? Is it because they are stupid? Is it because they are lazy?

"Well, at least Americans are better than the British were."

"No, they are worse."

The current "Global Warming" hoax illustrates the weakness of our institutions of learning and knowledge as does the Great Cholesterol Hoax.


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